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Some people just don’t learn

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, March 11th, 2012 - 83 comments
Categories: business, class war - Tags:

The support for the workers at POAL is growing by the day. Thousands of people turned out to march yesterday and the mainstream media has woken up to just how vicious the port’s tactics are.

But it’s not just the public support that is with the wharfies and their families. They’ve got the industrial muscle too – with port workers from around the world announcing they’ll blacklist ships loaded at POAL by strike-breaking labour.

And from what I hear POAL is in serious legal trouble as well.

All that could save POAL now would be the government intervening. But this government doesn’t have spare political capital to throw away by legislatively backing a despised port board against ordinary working Kiwis. It would have done so in the first sitting week if the management had managed to run a decent PR campaign against the union (in fact my sources tell me that was the original plan cooked up between the port board and the NACT crew – demonise the port workers over the xmas break and then invoke strategic economic interests to bang through more anti-union legislation).

Instead POAL is f**ked. They’re not going to get the contractors they need (and in fact the contracting companies themselves may yet discover that getting involved in this was a poor business decision), and the contractors they do get will be sitting idle because nobody will want to risk running cargo through Auckland unless they have to. They may even find they can’t legally employ a new workforce anyway.

In fact I’m calling time on Tony Gibson. This dispute will finish him. Sure he’ll stay on as CEO in name while someone else sorts this mess out but once the deal is done and the dispute leaves the spotlight he’ll be down the road. Probably for “family reasons”.

The thing is, I’ve seen this happen over and over again. Union members and their supporters have a long history of handing these wannabe Roarks their arses. Every major company that has tried to screw its workers in the last ten or so years has had a taste. International Paper had a taste, Progressive Enterprises had a taste, Air New Zealand had quite a few. And, despite getting his law change, Peter Jackson got a taste when he attacked union members after they settled (as did Key – another reason he’ll be keeping away from this one).

And yet Tony Gibson and his dad’s army of board members thought they’d get away with this? It just goes to show the calibre of corporate leadership we have in this country.

And just as an aside – Len Brown (and to a lesser extent David Shearer): you should have realised right from the start which way this was going to go. Backing union members wasn’t the political risk you faced. It never is.

83 comments on “Some people just don’t learn ”

  1. The news that should more than anything else show that POAL was engaging in bad faith bargaining is the recruitment drive it started two weeks ago, before the decision to deunionise the site was made and before MUNZ had a chance to respond or present its thoughts on the proposal.

    Good faith bargaining means keeping an open mind, not predetermining the issue before the union can respond.

    Len still has a chance to show leadership and I hope he does.  There is a meeting of Council this Thursday where the issue will be discussed and the outcome may determine how the issue is going to finish.

  2. John H 2

    Nice spin. However the battle’s over, even if a handful of unionists march through Auckland.

    Companies are run by managers and boards, not unions.

    If you don’t like that, buy a company and just see how realistic you find the union “demands”.

    IrishBill: I think you’ll find I’ve a lot more experience in business than you ever will.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 2.1

      “The battle’s over.”

      Yes, the blacklisted ships are being unloaded by happy little serfs as we speak…

      Aren’t they?

    • Funny I thought that we did own the company.  And as a shareholder I think the Board’s performance has been appalling.

      • Indeed, Micky. And Holmes’ interview on Q+A yesterday didn’t help much.

        From my blogpost analysis on Holmes’ interview with Richard Pearson,

        Towards the end of the “interview”, Pearson again slips up, when he states,

        ” Paul, that is absolute nonsense. People talk about waiting by the phone, etc. Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead. It is absolute nonsense to say that, and all I could also say is talk to the people at Tauranga. They’re quite happy. Everything works well. “

        That statement is a flat-out contradiction of Pearson’s earlier assertion, at the beginning of the interview, where he makes the claim that,

        “Well, from my perspective, Paul, I came into this situation, and I’ve been 37 years in the container port business and ports all around the world. I have never seen such a waste of resource going on here. I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift. You know, that’s like aeroplanes flying around waiting for- “

        On the one hand, Pearson claims that “I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift” – and then goes on to contradict that claim by stating that “Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead“.

        POAL’s Board and CEO should be sacked. As their leaked memo demonstrated, they had a secret agenda lined up to casualise the workforce and undermine job security.

        If this is what John Key meant when he pledged his government would “raise wages”, then he’s going a funny way about it.

        • Bafacu 2.2.1.1

          What a load of rubbish.

          The ships do come in within a very short timeframe of their stated arrival time … BUT then have to wait for the “workers” to arrive at their 9 – 5 job to do the work, rather than when they arrive.

          Portsa re not a 9 – 5 environment and if people want that then the Port is not the place for them.

          No contradiction from my perspective.

    • tc 2.3

      ‘Companies are run by managers and boards, not unions.’ very true and in this case being run badly with little if any respect for its workers, without which it doesn’t have a business.

      Expecting an unrealistic ROI against the industry average and with little investment in capital or technology over the last decade or more Hides board are typical of many, not living in the real world just their own little mates club of spreadsheets and PR spin.

    • 5,000 people was a “handful of unionists”?!

      My, that’s quite a spin…

  3. Mark G 3

    Your commentary is reminiscent of Comical Ali from the 2003 Iraq War. He too was deluded about what side had won.

    IrishBill: I’ve seen a lot of disputes Mark, and I know how the real world works. Now take a month long ban for comparing me to a mass-murderer.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 3.1

      Anyone who believes Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf was deluded obviously missed the little smile that would flicker at the edges of his mouth. His best performance was the one with the US tanks clearly visible behind him. “There are no American tanks…”

      Just like if you were to say “there are no blacklisted ships…” Go on, say it, then we can all have a laugh.

    • DavidC 3.2

      Great way to shut down the debat there IrishBill.

      [Great way to get yourself a ban too. MarkG was not debating, and only got a month because IB got to him before I did…RL]

    • insider 3.3

      Comical Ali wasn’t a mass murderer, he was the front man at media conferences. His nickname was a pun on chemical Ali, who was indeed a mass murderer

      • mac1 3.3.1

        insider, you raise an interesting question. At what point do people become mass murderers? Is it only the people who actually pull the trigger or is it those who profit from, condone or even ignore the actions of the regime which they support?

        • insider 3.3.1.1

          Yes it is an interesting philosophical debate. But in Comical’s case, from memory he was captured and released without charge as having no real involvemtn in the Saddam regime and its crimes.

    • SHG 3.4

      Say what, IrishBill? The guy criticised your COMMENTARY, not your person. You can tell by the way he says “your commentary”.

    • Jagg 3.5

      [You asked for it…Banned permanently. RL]

  4. Jester 4

    Whilst I admire your conviction Bill, i should point out that hanging your hat on international support is limp at best.

    Cue Australian Trade Practices Act, UK Employment Act 1990 and the US Wagner Act. All similar legislation that sent Tauranga and Lyttletons secondary strikers back to work.

    Reading body language and comments from Q&A this morning Mr Parsloe did not appear to be in the box seat at all and his plea for the POAL to return to the table and his request for someone to intervene seemed desperate at best.

    Whilst I agree that in the past the unions were dogged scrappers, however legislation, falling union numbers and the general publics interpretation on union greed has emasculated them.

    Mr Parsloe gave a very good impression of a punch drunk boxer…..still upright but the lights are out and the last fight over.

    • MrV 4.1

      Not to say how many unemployed Americans would love a port job right now.

    • IrishBill 4.2

      I think you’ll find you’re wrong. The legislation you quote tends only to have use when secondary industrial action is expressly notified.

      I expect the wharfies to be back employed as employees by the end of the month. I’m not often wrong in these matters.

      • Jester 4.2.1

        True, but secondary action that is not expressly notified does tend to leave the worker rather exposed to action of the employer which I’m not to sure the internationals will risk for pissant little ole NZ. Solidarity is one thing, long term solidarity is another.

        MUA seem to have there own shitfight happening in their own backyard with Patrick to rock the boat too much. Perhaps you need to start proposing monkey wrenching within the transport unions. Probably have more success there 🙂

        • IrishBill 4.2.1.1

          I’m not to [sic] sure the internationals will risk for pissant little ole[sic] NZ

          That’s not been my experience at all.

          • Jester 4.2.1.1.1

            Maybe not so 10 years ago, but times are a changing Bill, times are a changing.

            • Muzza 4.2.1.1.1.1

              Actually you’re right , times are changing and it’s heading back in time. The further back you look, the more clearly you can see the future. And so the times are changing alright, with some big shocks for the banker run capitalist system.

            • Frank Macskasy 4.2.1.1.1.2

              Indeed they are, Jester… but not quite as you feel.

              In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a resurgence in Union activity; new right dogma is being challenged; and people are seeking alternatives. Judging by the hysteria shown by some on the Right, they are nervous – and so they should be.

              The new meme is that crony capitalism is not working and will never work – it demands too much from the majority. People want more; they want job security and a decent wage.

              Attacking the port workers was a big mistake. Even if they were earning $91k (which is BS, going by POAL’s own factsheet), so what?

              Dear Leader pledged to raise wages in 2008 and last year – and here we have a company trying to drive down wages with casualisation. People see that and wonder, “am I next”?

              And when the middle class baby boomers start to get anxious – that’s when governments lose.

  5. Bruce 5

    Go the unions!
    It surely can’t be that easy to dump an entire workforce lawfully.

  6. Darien Fenton 6

    Time to lay off David Shearer. He marched with the workers yesterday and spoke on behalf of Labour to show our support He’s visited the picket line and kept in regular contact. He was up at the Maritime Bar on Friday night to talk to the workers again. There were 15 Labour MPs there yesterday, our president, vice president, Maori Council and hundreds, if not thousands of other Labour Party members. He’s the only party leader (apart from Hone I think) who has actually been to the picket line.

    • tsmithfield 6.1

      “Time to lay off David Shearer.”

      Darien, if he is doing all these wonderful things, then why do you want to lay him off? 🙂

      • Darien Fenton 6.1.1

        @tsmithfield : Very funny. If it weren’t so serious for 300 workers and their families at the ports, the 1000 off workers who are locked out by the Talleys family and the 1500 rest home workers who are having to strike because of our pitiful minimum wage.

        • Pete George 6.1.1.1

          Why do you think so much attention is given to the port workers compared to the aged-care workers? Compared to port workers aged-care workers are paid pitifully.

          Just because shipping can be disrupted much more easily?

          • shreddakj 6.1.1.1.1

            Don’t worry, once we win the battle at the ports, we’ll fight just as hard for rest home workers.

            • DavidC 6.1.1.1.1.1

              “Don’t worry, once we win the battle at the ports, we’ll fight just as hard for rest home workers.”
              Utter bullshit.
              Unions have allways gone for soft targets, the ones that hurt the public or the ecconomy.
              Auckland warfies achieve better than $50 a hour for unskilled work ($90K at 28 hours a week) and aged care gets $14?

              • Kotahi Tane Huna

                *wharfies.

              • RedLogix

                Unions have allways gone for soft targets, the ones that hurt the public or the ecconomy.

                Yes… it’s called ‘market power’. Have a problem with that?

                • tsmithfield

                  I am surprised Labour are so politically naive on this one. It would be much more politically acceptable for them to be standing up for the likes of the rest home workers who are paid very lowly for the value of the work they perform. This would seem very much aligned with Labour’s core message.

                  But because Labour has decided to support the wharfies, it appears that Labour is standing up for workers that many would probably view as rich pricks in drag. This is not really consistent with their positioning as the guardians of the vulnerable.

                  • RedLogix

                    Spare me ts. The problem for some workers is that they are not really in a legal or ethical position to strike….which hugely reduces their negotiating power.

                    If Labour was seen standing up for rest home workers…encouraging them to strike… can you imagine the howls of outrage?

                    • There are other ways to do it. Striking should be a last resort tactic, as it often harms the workers more than helps them (while union officials and politicians keep drawing full salaries).

                      If Labour wanted to be credible about equality then they should be putting much more effort into aged-care workers. Not by talking them into striking, that would be stupid.

                      They should be campaigning much more strongly in parliament for better funding of the elderly sector wages.

                      Much more useful than wasting so much time and resource having an extended hissy fit about some part sales of a few assets that probably aren’t going to have a major impact in the whole scheme of things.

                    • KJT

                      PG. 14 Billion deficit. 
                       
                      14 billion lost dividends and earnings from the last round of asset sales. Bit of a coincidence.
                       
                       
                      Workers ARE reluctant to strike, because it costs them a lot.
                       
                      The costs of not striking have to be huge.

                      Do you realise you have just made a case for sympathy strikes to be legal.
                      The rest of the Union movement could then use their market power to support rest home workers.
                       
                      Where are your screams about Mearsk using their market power, and the stupidity of our fake port competition, to reduce their costs.

                      Parsloes salary is a 9th of Gibson’s. Hardly creaming it.

                    • Striking IS a last resort, for the very reason that it can be a high-risk strategy. The fact that so many unions have to strike indicates something about the culture of employment in general and in our country specifically- namely, that employers don’t always give people a fair go when employees negotiate in good faith. I’m sure employees can demand too much as well, but we don’t really have a history of that in New Zealand- this isn’t France, with its ridiculously high amount of leave, or anything. 🙂

                    • I’m sure employees can demand too much as well, but we don’t really have a history of that in New Zealand

                      Are you quite young Matthew? I’ve lived through times of ridiculous union demands, some of them frequent, like cooks and stewards (interisaland ferries), freezing workers and wharfies. Earlier fighting for reasonable work conditions was justified, it later became farcical and disruptive. (Employers weren’t always blameless either).

                      Have you wondered why wharfies can earn far more than aged care workers, more even than nurses and teachers?

                  • Jenny

                    If you hadn’t noticed the Maritime Union members were on there on the rest home workers picket, as they were on the Dairy workers and all the other workers over the years who have been in trouble with their employers, that is how solidarity works.

                    It is why they had so many turn up to support them on Saturday.

              • muzza

                Better than $50 per hour, do share where you for that little piece of detail from DC…

              • shreddakj

                Wow, the right wing trolls keep making the pay even bigger! Has anyone told the wharfies what they’re missing out on?

          • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1.1.1.2

            Attention by whom, Pete?

    • Muzza 6.2

      Hey Darien are you a member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, how about Shearer ?

    • Jimmie 6.3

      So to stir the pot a little Ms Fenton are you saying that the march was made up of Labour MP’s, unionists, & Labour Party Hacks? I thought the spin here was that it was a sign of growing public support for the ex wharfies not a bunch of patisan activists trying to make this a national issue.

      Can’t have it both ways.

      • Jenny 6.3.1

        Eh Jimmy, the majority of the marchers I took to be non-union, and with many young people. Make of that what you will.

    • newsense 6.4

      He’s got our qualified support Darien. He’s still got to earn our loyalty.

      I think it is very very healthy that we expect high standards from our Labour leaders, and I think in fact the Clark government was at its best when it was strongly critiqued from an intellectually vibrant left. It did that government no harm at all.

  7. The world is 5-6 years passed peak oil/energy, from now on we will all have less next year than we had this year, that is what a reducing amount of energy equals, it also means less tax take, as the wankers in Wellington are finding out, less jobs, less fright coming into NZ ports, therefore less wharfies, less truckies and less social justice.
    Welcome to my nightmare
    Now the rubber is hitting The Road ) http://www.themodernword.com/reviews/mccarthy_road.html
    But all is not lost we got Kiwi Saver

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      Are you sure that oil supply next year is going to be lower than this year?

      I’m not so sure. I certainly wouldn’t bet on it.

      • Muzza 7.1.1

        If the supply of oil is used as a weapon , why not the stats around reserves etc! What possible reason would any oil company or production state have for being forthcoming about the figures. Just speculating!

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.2

        Are you sure that oil supply next year is going to be lower than this year?

        Yes it will be. Especially if you measure it in a way which makes sense e.g. qty of oil available for trade on world markets per capita per dollar of cost.

        • Jenny 7.1.2.1

          Don’t worry CV the oil industry will keep drilling and fracking and spilling and mining tar sands, and coal until every possible hydrocarbon resource has been liberated to find it’s way into the atmosphere.

          Welcome to my nightmare.

      • Robert Atack 7.1.3

        Lanth

        I don’t think you have the software in your neck top to be able to sit through this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOMWzjrRiBg 34 minute skit, let alone the ability to understand it, but maybe someone else on this blog will, they can explain it all to you.

        • Lanthanide 7.1.3.1

          As usual Robert you mistake my needling of you for a lack of understanding of peak oil.

          I understand and appreciate peak oil quite well, and have for some years.

          I specifically asked if you think *next year’s* production will be less than *this year’s*. I was very specific and deliberate in my question, but as usual this subtlety has whistled past you.

          • grumpy 7.1.3.1.1

            You make a good point, Element 57.

            I have seen forecasts of an increase in oil production for next year………………..

          • Robert Atack 7.1.3.1.2

            And clearly you didn’t watch the You Tube skit. showing that taking anything you say is a fucking waste of my time, it will not happen again, I just hope you have children

            • Lanthanide 7.1.3.1.2.1

              Hey Robert, I’ve been reading TheOilDrum since 2007 and DoTheMath since it started last year.

              I AM FULLY AWARE OF PEAK OIL AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF IT.

              Now are you going to answer my question, or not? Are you sure that oil production in 2013 is going to be lower than in 2012?

            • Kotahi Tane Huna 7.1.3.1.2.2

              Mr. Asshat, you just don’t get it do you? You are mistaking contempt for your arrogance and rudeness as a commentary on peak oil. It isn’t: it’s just contempt for your arrogance and rudeness.

    • johnm 7.2

      Hi Robert When is AFewKnowTheTruth returning to make comments here? Sort of miss his wake up calls.

      • Jenny 7.2.1

        plus 1

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 7.2.2

        Oh yes, lol.

        “Now that Peak Oil is starting to bite a 4% contraction of the economy looks about right for 2012”

        So insightful, so full of shiny truthiness.

        • Lanthanide 7.2.2.1

          Indeed. The economic armageddon seems to creep back and permanently stay just over the horizon as time goes on. I’m now seriously wondering if we’re actually going to see any significant impacts before 2014-2015.

    • Hammer 7.3

      Peak oil – a 50 year old myth. Shale Gas and Shale oil is flowing in many parts of the world; Sth Africa just announced a 400 year supply, USA talks of hundreds of years supply too.
      Poland has huge supplies;
      USA gas prices have halved in last 5 years.

      The only worried ones are the Arabs.

      • Robert Atack 7.3.1

        I think it is about 4 buck a gallon at the moment ……. when was it $8?
        Oh and it is a 56 year ‘myth’ ….

        • Hammer 7.3.1.1

          Thanks for the link – an interesting viewing.

          Re the gas halving in price in the USA – I should have been more specific – I was talking of the Shale Gas [CNG/LPG] which is falling in price as it takes over from coal for the generation of electricity.

  8. Darien Fenton 8

    @Muzza : yes I am. Not sure about David S. Will check.

    • muzza 8.1

      Shame they changed the name really – Parliamentarians for Global Order seemed much more honest to me. The name change kind of screemed that someone was not all that pleased with the marketing department!

      Differing lines of thought around what the organisation exists for, and the website is laughable, without even having the NZ section functioning, and its been a work in progress for quite some time….

      Do any of the PfGO in NZ write or blog about their involement. Are you able to point to yours or others experiences from it?

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    The FOL’s (NZ Federation of Labour) late Jim Knox used to regulary be spontaneously applauded when he walked into workers meetings. While even a few union officials mocked Jim as did TV shitheads McPhail & Gadsby, per his mangled vocabulary, along predictably with Pig Muldoon, his attitude was genuine, a ’51 vet. and many workers instinctively knew that.

    Jim used to say in a platitudinous way at first hearing, but probably more from the boredom of repetition, stuff like “unite all who can be united, working men and women lets go forward together with the advice and support of the Federation of Labour”. It is called positive leadership and that is what we need now.

    That is the style workers enjoy and require. Aotearoa has changed incredibly since the 80s but all you coffee swilling Standard freelancers and even a few right wingers probably yearn for it deep down, change happens on the streets like it or not, heh.

    The unionists are not the dinosaurs it is the POAL.

  10. Bryan 10

    I object to POAL chair in the daily full page adds at 25K a time telling me that there was no other way for the port company but to repudiate the maritime union collective. POAL is owned by us ratepayers and has no mandate for acting in bad faith. Stop the directors fees and casualise the CEO – hell yes!!!

  11. Jenny 11

    it is imperitave that the two parties come together and continue talking.

    The Honourable Sua William Sio

    “It’s Never Too Late to Talk Employment”

    The actions, of Sua William Sio and the other Labour MPs including Labour leader David Shearer who yesterday stood with the many thousands of grass roots New Zealanders and dozens of overseas supporters, has moved the Labour mayor of Auckland, Len Brown to reconsider his previous hands off approach to the Ports of Auckland dispute.

    Today on current affairs programme Q+A the Mayor said he wanted to step in to the dispute between the parties to find a solution.

    MUNZ press release 11/03/12

    The leader of the Maritime Union, Gary Parsloe has warmly greeted the Mayor’s offer to step into the dispute to find a solution. And has offered to meet at any time on any day.

    So far, there has been no reply from the management of the Ports of Auckland to the Mayor’s offer to meet to find a solution.

    Not being interested in this meeting is just one more act of bad faith by the Ports of Auckland management.

    The Ports management do not want to settle and are determined to sack their workforce and replace them with contractors.

    PoAL refuse to negotiate in good faith even though the law requires them too.

    The inescapable conclusion is that the Ports management do not want to come together to continue talks to resolve this dispute.

    If PoAL continue to ignore the call to attend the talks called by the Mayor, I think that the Ports of Auckland management should be injuncted to attend the Mayor’s offer of talks, on pain of serious legal penalties targeting the individuals responsible.

    I am sure that in light of the Mayor’s offer to mediate, any judge being aware of the law requiring parties involved in a industrial dispute to negotiate in good faith, would have no choice but to grant such an injunction.

    On the March

    Rallying the crowd

    From facebook

    We have your back

  12. infused 12

    [Deleted …not useful]

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  • Speech to inaugural Countering Terrorism Hui
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  • Progress towards simpler process for changing sex on birth certificates
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